It’s no secret that the recent presidential race was full of word vomit from both parties. Even Fox News, though, can admit that the Republican Party had an especially difficult time. Rick Perry could not list three departments he wanted to cut, Mitt Romney let it slip that he didn’t worry about half the country, and Rick Santorum just had a really unfortunate last name.
Luckily for them, Fox News correspondent and Republican Party strategist Frank Luntz has a solution. According to Luntz, the party is simply having a “messaging” problem. In other words, it’s OK if you are under the incredibly false and insulting impression that women’s bodies have a special way of shutting down in the case of “legitimate” rape –looking at you, Todd Akin – you just can’t say it.
Fortunately, Luntz’ exploitation of language is not limited to politics. It can be used in all aspects of life.
Entertainment: Ever noticed that celebrities never have anything bad to say about their co-stars? It is not because they all get along perfectly. It’s because they have mastered the rules of language. Using Jedi mind tricks to deceive the host into not discussing a certain co-star, saying that the director was “interesting” to work with and acting like the animated film they voiced was about their young fans, not their paycheck. It’s all brilliant tricks of the trade.
E! is the master of messing with messaging. Those aren’t washed up child stars, terrifying monster ladies and spoiled sex-tape releasers. They are celebrities, real housewives and Kardashians. With just a few clever word choices, producers are able to make us forget we are watching people who live slightly more pathetic lives than our own and instead make us believe that we are being entertained by fabulous celebrities whom we should admire.
Advertising: America has a choice to make. With unemployment at about 7.8 percent nationally, we can either mope about it or make a reality show about it. That’s right, through the exploitation of language, we can turn America’s current unemployment problem into our entertainment solution. CBS’ new show “The Job” features job-seekers competing to win, you guessed it, a job. It is not even an exciting job, like working for Donald Trump, but a job that pays money and hopefully has insurance. A sad and bleak sign of the times? Only if by “sad” and “bleak,” you mean “riveting” and “a surefire rating success.” It is all about advertising. By being told that this is fun, we can believe it is fun. Simple as that!
My personal life: This is by far the place where I exploit language the most. For example, I’m not “creeping” on social media. I am “researching future friends.” The only difficult part is when I accidentally favorite an Instagram from three months ago and have to pretend that it was my cat walking over my screen … again.
When I am stuffing my face full of Dobbs double-chocolate-chip cookies, it’s because I have had a long day and deserve it. Besides, I am totally going to the gym later. We all know none of these things are true, but if I say it loud enough and often enough, then surely I can at least pretend to convince myself.
Reality Check: Language is a powerful tool that can be used for both good and bad. We have all told a white lie or bought an item just because the packaging was a little bit prettier, and that is OK. However, we need to be wary. There is a huge difference between actually improving something and just changing the wording to make it seem better than it really is.
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